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2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, La Reine des Bois, Domaine de la Mordorée
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Scores and Reviews
Christophe and Fabrice Delorme at Domaine de la Mordorée did not take long to project this fine estate (which is named, somewhat poetically, after a woodcock) into the Premier League.
Based in the Southern Rhone appellation of Tavel, the brothers make, as one would expect, delicious rosé wine in addition to a very fine Lirac and an excellent Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Christophe produced his first wines there in 1987. Up until that time the estate had been little more than a hobby for his father, an industrialist with two great passions; shooting and wine.
Christophe totally refurbished and modernised the winery as well as replanting much of the vineyards. Today the domaine has 40 hectares of vineyards - 7 hectares in Tavel, 15 hectares in Lirac (top-notch examples), 16 hectares for generic Côtes-du-Rhône and 3 hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The vineyards are organically cultivated as much as possible, only using chemical weedkillers and pesticides as a very last resort. As for the winemaking, the grapes are all systematically destemmed upon arrival at the winery and vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel fermenters. The wines are then matured in a mixture of stainless steel vats and new oak barrels. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois is a limited bottling only produced in the very finest years.
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the largest and most important wine appellation in the southern Rhône. It is home to more than 3,200 hectares of vineyards and over 80 growers; more wine is produced in Châteauneuf than the whole of the northern Rhône put together. The vineyards are bounded to the west by the Rhône river and to the east by the A7 autoroute.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first ever Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée established in France, in 1932. Small, rounded rocks from the ancient river bed known as galets roulés are a key aspect of what makes Châteauneuf -du-Pape wines so distinctive, with the rocks reflecting heat back into the vines at night, thus increasing ripeness and reducing acidity.
The gloriously rich red wines, redolent of the heat and herbs of the south, are enhanced by the complexity which comes from blending several grape varieties. Fourteen are permitted for reds: Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Teret Noir, Muscadin, Picpoul Noir, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Picpoul Gris and Picardin. With red Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache typically dominates with Syrah and Mourvèdre in support.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is becoming increasingly sought-after, even though it represents less than 10 percent of the total production. Here, five grapes are permitted: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Picardin.
Recommended Producers: Château de Beaucastel, Clos de Papes, Vieux Télégraphe, Château Rayas,, Domaine de la Charbonnière, Sabon, Château La Nerthe, Domaine Perrin